Client Story

Rotherham Rise

  • Location: Rotherham
  • Sector: Health Care and Social Care
  • Amount: £300k
  • Purpose: Building Purchase
Read More Get in touch

One of the oldest organisations that supports survivors of domestic abuse or child sexual exploitation, Rotherham Rise began as a charity in 1976.

A quarter of women and one in six men in Rotherham will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. “It’s high, isn’t it?” Sue Wynne, CEO, said.

“Over the years my passion and determination has only grown; we need to empower survivors to help overcome the trauma they’ve experienced.”

Services include practical and therapeutic support for over 2,000 people a year, as well as a range of refuge options.

When Covid hit and a stay home order given to the nation, Sue knew they would have to act rapidly.

“Covid had an enormous impact for many in abusive relationships. In normal times, they would potentially have access to other friends or family as a support network. This enforced isolation made the barriers to seek support more difficult to overcome.”

“There was a need to reassure people that we were here regardless of lockdown.”

In spring 2019, a £300,000 Key Fund loan helped Rotherham Rise buy the building it rented. In October, it completed the purchase. At a time of huge national instability with the pandemic, the building provided stability.

Rotherham Rise receives rent from tenants, providing a new income stream. It created its own community café in the building, which closed during restrictions. The team innovated to online trading, putting together well-being boxes. Sue plans to reinvigorate the online shop in the future to complement the café.

They saw a rise over the year of up to 20% in numbers seeking support. A small organisation, they could make quick decisions in real-time to meet demand.

They came up with a blended solution of remote work and on-site support for the accommodation service, with appropriate risk assessments. They mobilised phone lines, webchats, and virtual group support sessions.

“We delivered posters and information leaflets to supermarkets, vaccination testing sites and cards to households, so people knew they were not alone and support was out there, refuge included.”

The team accessed emergency funding to create additional services to increase refuge provision by another eight houses.

A third of Rotherham lives in the top 20% most deprived areas across England. Covid has made inequalities more acute. “We have people who say that without our support, they don’t think that they’d still be here.”

Rotherham Rise will be even more critical in the future.

“We’ve seen an increase in people using foodbanks. There’s no doubt that choices are already limited for people in domestic abuse; for many, financial stability is a barrier to leaving.”

Sue is standing ready. “We’ll be in a stronger position, owning the property; it will enable us to develop as the years go on.”

“We have had to move premises several times in the last ten years, and it has been expensive and disruptive,” Sue explained. “The investment was hugely important. It’s provided us stability and long-term plans for our financial position and has allowed us to focus on providing more extensive services to the community and survivors.” – Sue Wynne

Service user, Lisa*

Lisa suffered sexual violence and physical assaults throughout her 16 years of marriage.

Due to Covid 19 restrictions, the abuse became worse. With the family stuck at home she could no longer hide the abuse taking place from her children. It was harder to communicate with the outside world, being watched continuously by her partner.

She mustered her courage to report her partner to the police. She, and her three young children, were supported and placed in temporary accommodation but had to leave after a few days due to safety concerns. Rotherham Rise was able to promptly provide an emergency, safe accommodation space for Lisa and her children.

Lisa said: “I felt an instant breath of relief. Staff were so welcoming and kind. I felt cared for, and that aching feeling of isolation reduced instantly. I was so deeply touched at the warmth, cleanliness and spacious place. I smiled. I saw all my children smile too.”

“My children rushed to the bedroom where they had beautifully laid beds with a gift for each. I saw a welcome pack, and all my essentials such as toiletries and food. I had no heating in my house as my husband has become addicted to alcohol and cannabis, which stopped him from working. I feel my prayers have been answered. We were safe.”

Lisa added: “Rotherham Rise is that sunshine on a dark, gloomy day and being here has given me hope for my children’s future. I am not scared anymore. I feel supported. It’s organisations like Rotherham Rise that make me feel this world can be better and safer.”

*Name has been changed.

Skip to content